This may be a little too south for you - it's at the southern end of central Jersey and the northern end of south Jersey - but the steak is tasty! The wine is excellent too, and very fairly priced.
Charley's Other Brother
1383 Monmouth Rd
Mt Holly, NJ
I didn't realize that any of the "Charley's various relatives" chain was still around. Years ago, we used to go to Charley's Uncle, on Route 18, in East Brunswick. It was not a steakhouse. The menu was eclectic American. It closed a long time ago, but I remember that the last meal we ate there was pretty bad.
I ate here for the first time last week and thought it was pretty good. I would not say it's the greatest steak I've ever had, but I'm used to Chicago steakhouses, so I would think that my standards are pretty high. But the food, service, and ambiance were really good. It was a pleasant surprise in Trenton, which I had always assumed was a real pit.
Saw your other post for places near Bridgewater. In Mercer County, we frequent:
KC Prime (by QuakerBridge Mall), Lawrenceville, NJ - Steaks are consistantly of execllent quality. They usually have a prime dry aged special or two and they have Kobe on occasion, as a special. The best item is their lamb chops, not on the menu, but a frequent special. If they don't mention them when they rattle off the list, ask for them. You'll receive (3) large, huge, really big, double or triple chops! They're the best I've had locally as well as in NYC & Chicago. Did I mention they're really big?!
Also in the area, but not as consistantly good is Witherspoon Grill in Princeton and soon to be opened Ruth's Chris in Forrestal Village, off Route 1 in Plainsboro.
I'd say it depends on what kind of steak you're looking for. My three favorite steaks in the area:
Cheap & Delicious: Arthur's Tavern, North Brunswick
Spice-rubbed: Copper Canyon
Luger style Aged Prime: Manhattan Steakhouse
By the way, I was at Manhattan with a couple buddies last week and the place is under new ownership. The new owner says he's been a patron for 10 years and seemed dedicated to keeping it a quality joint. The quality of the meat was as good as its ever been, and the price hasn't changed (which is more than i can say about any other restaurant these days). Considering the price of beef, this in itself seems like quite a feat!
The best thing I can say is that everything is more or less the same as it's always been.
The only visible change in their interior space is that they've done away with the tables near the bar area and turned it into more of a standing room area.
The menu has not changed at all. Same menu, same prices. The only thing different is a letter from the new owner introducing himself, which I thought was nice. One weird thing is that he won't be honoring the old gift certificates past a certain date which seems slightly shady, but I don't know what standard practice is in this situation.
We decided to start off with thick cut bacon - I've never had this at Manhattan but it's possibly my favorite thing at Luger so we decided to try it. The bacon was a little too lean for me, but had good smoky flavor. I ended up throwing a bunch of butter on the bacon which made it mmm...delicious! :D I know..I should probably seek professional help.
Aside from the steak, I really love the salad there. It's still the same salad but the dressing didn't seem as tangy as usual, with the oil/vinegar balance slightly skewed to the oily side.
I honestly don't pay much attention to the sides, and go right for the steak - the guys I ate with seemed to really love the thick cut fries though. We got three different potatoes - mashed, ff, and sweet potato mashed. They all tasted fine to me, no better or worse than it's ever been.
Every time I go to Manhattan I first try to ignore the chimicurri and white sauce they bring out, and then eventually give it another try. Once again I found the sauces horrifying so nothing's changed there. :D
We ordered a Porterhouse for 2 and a rib eye. I always have a hard time deciding between strip and ribeye when it comes to steak, and I gotta say the discussion is over for me: get both! :D Going back and forth between the fat-popping lusciousness of the ribeye to the minerally beefy flavor of strip - I doubt heaven could be much better. :D I'm not a huge fan of the tenderloin when it comes to steak but it was also good.
We had this meal with a bottle of cab and a couple beers, and no complaints there either.
I never thought Manhattan had particularly good or bad service, and that opinion hasn't changed. But they certainly did most things right.
We were seated by the new owner - in the menu is a letter from him stating that he's been a regular for 10 years - seems like a fan-turned-owner kind of thing which is good. I did briefly meet the previous owner as well on our way out - I guess he's staying on board during the transition phase.
Just to recap everything - this is still the same Manhattan steakhouse, which IMO has been and still is the best prime aged steakhouse in our area.